Op-Ed: Building the Goal of Increasing Minority Homeownership

By Lindsey Johnson, President of USMI

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to remember why the mortgage and housing finance systems need to focus on Black homeownership. Owning a home helps to increase financial security, enhance family and community stability, and build intergenerational wealth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Black and Hispanic homeownership rates stand at 43 and 48 percent, respectively, compared to 74 percent for white households. Many have noted that this racial gap has alarmingly increased even after the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, when explicit racial discrimination was legal. While the industry has focused on ways to decrease this racial gap, more needs to be done.

To better identify and highlight the greatest homebuying challenges for today’s borrowers, U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI) conducted a national survey last June. The National Homeownership Market Survey found that Black respondents are more likely to perceive greater challenges during the homebuying process, with credit scores, existing debt, and the inability to afford a down payment identified as the main obstacles. Nearly 60 percent of Black respondents said they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and are more likely to worry about making housing payments. Meanwhile, white respondents are three times more likely to say there are no barriers to homeownership.

In addition, nearly 70 percent of all survey respondents said that the lack of affordable housing was the top homebuying challenge. As home prices continue to soar while available inventory remains limited, stress surrounding the desire to purchase a home among minorities is likely to rise. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) House Price Index, house prices rose 17.5 percent in 2021. Further, the National Association of REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey found that first-time homebuyers’ share of the market fell to 26 percent, and nearly 1 million renter households were priced out due to rising home prices.

The persistent racial gap needs to be addressed and we should work to speed up efforts to put sustainable homebuying within reach for more Americans. Fortunately, this challenge has the attention of housing and mortgage finance experts and policymakers, including FHFA Acting Director Sandra Thompson. As the conservator of the government-sponsored enterprises’ (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, FHFA released a Request for Input (RFI) on Equitable Housing Finance Plans and included equitable housing as a pillar in its draft 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.

In its RFI, FHFA articulated a framework by which the GSEs will be required to prepare and implement three-year plans to advance equity in housing finance. FHFA’s actions are commendable, but the details on how to address access to homeownership matter. This is why USMI urged FHFA to use data-driven, targeted approaches to reduce barriers to affordable mortgages for minority households.

The issues facing minority and other underserved borrowers are complex, multi-faceted, and vary by geography. Addressing them means being very specific about identifying the borrowers being served, their specific issues, and target outcomes. Further, there should be consistency in how the government and GSEs approach initiatives related to access to home financing. These initiatives should aim to increase sustainable access to credit for borrowers that need assistance the most, while also reducing credit risk. Whether it’s FHA or FHFA, policies should also aim to not stoke additional demand into the marketplace, further driving up prices, which acutely impacts low- and moderate-income borrowers.

A few key areas that the housing industry and policymakers should focus on are: 1) affordable housing production; 2) financial and homeownership education and outreach; and 3) a holistic review of GSE pricing, including reexamining 2008-era Loan-level price adjustments (LLPAs), which disproportionately impact minority borrowers.

Lastly, there should be greater transparency around the GSEs’ credit policies, underwriting technologies, and performance in key areas, most notably access to credit for minority households. The data and other factors that contribute to decisions that impact the GSE credit box should be publicly available to better inform policies and mortgage products around access to credit. Increased transparency will encourage greater collaboration among policymakers and industry participants and promote policies that can bring a balance between supply, demand, and affordability.

Minority homebuyers represent those who will increase the rate of homeownership in America in the coming decades. As an industry that exclusively serves homebuyers with limited access to funds for large down payments, we believe the issues and challenges facing these borrowers today will require significant collaboration to ensure they have access to sustainable, affordable financing.

This piece was first published in The Hill on February 25, 2022.

Article: Home Prices Fuel Push to Revive Mortgage Insurance Tax Break

A Law360 article by David van den Berg reports on legislative efforts to restore the federal tax deduction for mortgage insurance premiums. USMI President Lindsey Johnson was quoted as saying, “With [the] expiration [of the MI tax deduction], millions of hard-working, middle-class homeowners wouldn’t have access to this benefit that puts money back in the pockets of those who need it the most, at a time when inflation is raising the cost of virtually all goods and home price escalation continues.”

To read the full article, please click here. (Subscription may be required)

Op-Ed: We must increase access to affordable mortgages for minority borrowers

By: Lindsey Johnson

Homeownership has been on the rise over the past few years even during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a deeper look at who is able to become a homeowner reveals significant racial and economic gaps. With a growing recognition in Washington of this disparity and a renewed focus on increasing financial security for Black and Hispanic families, policymakers and industry have the opportunity to correct inequities and sustainably increase minority homeownership.

U.S. Census data for the third quarter of 2020 show that homeownership among White households stands at nearly 76 percent, compared to nearly 51 percent for Hispanic households, and 46 percent for Black households. Meanwhile, of the minority borrowers who qualified for home financing, many encountered added costs that make homeownership disproportionately more expensive or altogether out of reach.

COVID-19 has further compounded the racial and economic gap as millions of low- to moderate-income families have lost their jobs and face financial insecurity. The Urban Institute finds that Black and Hispanic homeowners are significantly more likely to face financial hardships and are more at risk of not being able to pay their rent or mortgage payment due to the impacts of the pandemic.

So, while we must focus on the pandemic and its impact on borrowers, and particularly minority borrowers, we must also not lose sight of addressing the longer-term systemic issues that unnecessarily increase costs or create barriers for minority borrowers. Importantly, expanding homeownership opportunities for minority borrowers does not have to be at the expense of the reforms made over the last decade that have drastically improved lending to protect consumers and avoid another housing market collapse. The housing finance system can remain stable and manage mortgage credit risk prudently, while also using data-driven, targeted approaches to reduce barriers to affordable mortgages for Black and Hispanic households.

Mortgage affordability could be further stressed once new regulatory mandates are implemented. This includes new capital requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) recently finalized by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). While it is essential that the GSEs hold appropriate capital, the rule must be balanced and policymakers should consider changes to elements of the final rule that threaten to raise the cost of mortgages for all borrowers and push homeownership farther out of reach for many families of color.

Additionally, policies that adversely drive up costs for minority borrowers should be re-examined and reduced or eliminated. Loan-level price adjustments (LLPAs) that were introduced by the GSEs in 2008 are especially burdensome for minority and first-time homebuyers. These fees are disproportionately paid by borrowers with lower down payments and credit scores, whose mortgages are already protected by private mortgage insurance. Essentially, borrowers are being double charged for the same risk protection. Industry and consumer advocates — including the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Center for Responsible Lending — have long urged the GSEs to reduce or eliminate these redundant fees.

Further, it is critical that policymakers recognize the role of low down payment mortgage options in facilitating homeownership. In fact, more than 80 percent of first-time homebuyers used low down payment mortgage options in the past several years — with options as low as 3 percent down. While these options have prudently enabled millions of people of all backgrounds to become homeowners, even more targeted down payment assistance programs should be considered for borrowers who may not have intergenerational wealth or equity from a previous home to contribute to a down payment. Legislation like Rep. Al Lawson’s (D-Fla.) First-Time Homeowners Assistance Act should be given close consideration when re-introduced in 2021. Meanwhile, President Biden has already expressed interest in a first-time homebuyer tax credit — a very welcome early signal from the new administration.

There are other issues that warrant attention, such as the low supply of affordable housing and lack of access to financial education. This list goes on, and we recommend that the Biden administration assemble a task force that includes broad representation from industry, consumer advocate community, and government to formulate an action plan, build consensus, and get to work.

As an industry that exists to help low- and middle-income households qualify for low down payment mortgages, private mortgage insurers understand the need to balance responsible lending with access to affordable mortgage finance credit. There are tangible and measurable steps to sustainably expand homeownership for minority families and fortunately there is an eagerness across the housing policy sector to achieve these outcomes.

This piece was first published in The Hill on January 30, 2021.

Op-Ed: Low Down Payments Backed by Mortgage Insurance More Important Than Ever

By: Lindsey Johnson

Today, the place you call home matters more than ever. Unfortunately, many Americans continue to believe homeownership is out of reach because they think a 20 percent down payment is needed to qualify for a mortgage.

A recent report by the private mortgage insurance (MI) industry finds that it could take a family earning the national median income over 20 years to save for a 20 percent down payment. But the wait decreases by 67 percent when a five percent down payment is the goal. Fortunately, millions of homebuyers each year qualify for home financing with low down payments.

Given the current economic environment due to COVID-19 and the desire of many people to keep more cash on-hand, low down payment loans are more important than ever. Low down payment mortgages with private mortgage insurance have proven to be a time-tested means for Americans to access affordable homeownership sooner while still providing credit risk protection and stability to the U.S. housing system. It is no wonder why more than 33 million homeowners have used this type of home financing and why its use is on the rise.

The report finds that in 2019, the number of low down payment loans backed by private MI increased 22.9 percent. Over 1.3 million home loans were purchased or refinanced with private MI, up from just over 1 million in 2018. Nearly 60 percent of the borrowers of these loans were first-time homebuyers and 40 percent had annual incomes of less than $75,000.

Why have millions turned to this type home financing?

Let us first take a closer look at a borrower who earns the national median income of $63,179. To save 20 percent, plus closing costs, for a $274,600 home, the median sales price for a single-family home last year, they would need to bring more than $63,000 in cash to the table. It could take up to 21 years to save up this amount based on the national savings rate dedicated towards a mortgage. But if this borrower qualifies using private MI on a five percent down payment mortgage, their wait time drops to just seven years. This type of home financing offers Americans a chance to secure home financing much sooner than previously believed.

Why is 20% the “magic number”?

Data demonstrates that borrowers who make larger down payments are less likely to default on their mortgages than borrowers with lower down payments. Therefore, lenders traditionally require a 20 percent down payment to offer mortgage financing to a borrower. This is where mortgage insurance steps in, providing credit enhancement for the borrower with a lower down payment, and insuring the loan for the lender in the event the borrower stops making their payments. Once the borrower builds 20 percent equity in their mortgage, the insurance can be cancelled, thus lowering the monthly payment. Private MI also helps Americans buy a home without necessarily breaking the bank.

Private mortgage insurance is offered on so-called conventional loans that are backed by the government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When there is private MI on a loan, the risk protection provided to lenders for making a low down payment mortgage possible is extended to the GSEs too. In the event of a default, the private mortgage insurance stands to cover losses first, meaning private MI also protects taxpayers.

Supporting the American Dream

As the report demonstrates, private mortgage insurers’ role in the low down payment market significantly increased over the last five years. Between 2015 and 2019, private mortgage insurers’ market share in the low down payment lending sector increased from 34.8 percent of the insured market in 2015 to 44.7 percent in 2019, helping millions of Americans qualify for home financing.

Private MI offers a reliable path to the American dream of owning a home. Since 1957, private MI has helped more than 33 million Americans become homeowners while protecting taxpayers. And right now, more than ever, we are even more aware of the benefits of owning a home—from building wealth to creating stability to the importance of having a safe place to call your own.

Lindsey Johnson is the president of the U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), the association representing the nation’s leading private mortgage insurance companies.


Mortgage Professional America originally published USMI President Lindsey Johnson’s opinion piece, “Low down payments backed by mortgage insurance more important than ever” on August 10, 2020. 

Op-Ed: No, The FHA Should Not Be Pushed to the Brink Again

By: Lindsey Johnson


Some hailed the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual report on the Federal Housing Administration’s financial status as evidence that the government mortgage insurance program should lower its fees. And they said that FHA should consider expanding its footprint in the housing finance market.

But HUD Secretary Ben Carson made clear that while FHA’s financial health has improved, it should “maintain its focus on providing access to mortgage financing to low- and moderate-income families that cannot be fulfilled through traditional underwriting.”

The FHA serves an important countercyclical role in the housing finance system; however, it is important that policymakers recognize that there is a vibrant conventional market that is able to serve many borrowers and prudently help them access affordable mortgage finance. Further, because FHA-backed mortgages protect 100% of the risk, expanding the FHA would mean expanding taxpayer exposure to that risk. This is simply not necessary.

Indeed, low down payment lending is critically important to the U.S. housing system. It gives many first-time home buyers access to the conventional mortgage market without requiring them to put a full 20% down. In the third quarter of 2019, nearly 80% of first-time homebuyers used these mortgages — 35% of which were backed by private mortgage insurance. With the private sector taking the first-loss risk exposure on these loans, the federal government, and thus taxpayers, are far more protected from mortgage credit risk.

The FHA-insured market and the conventional market should complement one another rather than compete. The conventional market — where the credit risk is backed by private capital — is well positioned to play a bigger role in facilitating access to affordable credit. It can do so without unnecessarily saddling the government or taxpayers with risk.

This better enables the FHA to focus on its mission of supporting those borrowers who do not have access to traditional financing — and to ensure it can play its countercyclical role through all market cycles.

In 2018, conventional loans with private MI helped more than one million low down payment borrowers — nearly 60% of which were first-time homebuyers and nearly 40% had incomes below $75,000. And in the first three quarters of 2019, nearly 47% of insured loans had private MI and the industry supported almost $275 billion in new originations. On the other hand, the FHA has over $1.2 trillion of outstanding risk exposure in 2019, according to the HUD report.

For borrowers, conventional low down payment mortgages with private MI are a good deal, because they are affordable despite a higher loan-to-value ratio and the insurance cancels once 20% equity is built. This results in direct savings for the borrower, compared to the FHA where premiums are typically paid for the life of the loan. Further, according to a recent analysis by the Urban Institute, loans with private MI were more affordable than loans backed by FHA for the majority of credit score and down payment cohorts for low down payment borrowers. And for the housing system these loans are a good deal because compared to FHA-backed mortgages, there is less risk exposure for taxpayers. Plus private mortgage insurers serve as a second set of eyes during the underwriting process to ensure that borrowers are set up for sustainable homeownership.

Instead of asking how FHA lending can be expanded the debate should revolve around prudently making low down payment mortgages in general more affordable and accessible to ensure risk is being managed appropriately. It can be done. Secretary Carson and other regulators have outlined in their recent reform plans ways to promote private capital supporting the housing finance system where possible.

Further the mortgage credit landscape is very different today than it was prefinancial crisis, largely due to new statutory restrictions of mortgage product features and federal regulation. For example, the Qualified Mortgage Rule provides the necessary safeguards for lending and underwriting. These safeguards, including measurable thresholds to assess a borrower’s ability-to-repay, have resulted in much better and safer mortgages being originated. In fact, foreclosure rates are at a 20-year low.

As regulators assess changes to mortgage underwriting requirements, including the expiration of the GSE patch in the QM Rule, these changes should be done in a coordinated manner with federal housing agencies by collaborating to create and implement a harmonized standard that can apply across the conventional and FHA mortgage markets alike to ensure a level playing field. Otherwise, the resulting regulatory patchwork could create arbitrage opportunities, lock some consumers out of the market due to higher costs, and merely shift, rather than reduce, the government’s exposure to mortgage credit risk.

Our housing regulators have a significant opportunity to strike the right balance to ensure that both access and risk are managed throughout the mortgage finance system. Private mortgage insurers understand this delicate balance and look forward to working with them to achieve sustainable levels for each.


National Mortgage News originally published USMI President Lindsey Johnson’s opinion piece, “No, the FHA should not be pushed to the brink again” on December 24. The piece was also published by American Banker.

Blog: Mortgage Insurance: A faster way into your first home

For many Americans, the biggest hurdle in buying a home is the down payment. According to a recent report, 49% of non-homeowners stated that not having enough money for a down payment and closing costs was a major obstacle to purchasing a home. Many people also mistakenly believe lenders require a 20% down payment to qualify for mortgage financing.

Data shows that by using private mortgage insurance (MI), millions of homebuyers with down payments as low as 3% or 5% have been approved for affordable and well-underwritten mortgages.

In the past year alone, MI has helped more than 1.1 million borrowers purchase or refinance a mortgage. Nearly 60% were first-time homebuyers, and more than 40% had annual incomes below $75,000.

How MI works

In addition to the other elements of the mortgage underwriting process — such as verifying employment and determining the borrower’s ability to afford the monthly payment — lenders require borrowers to commit some of their own money before approving their mortgage loan. This is where MI entered the system more than 60 years ago, to bridge the down payment gap and help creditworthy borrowers qualify for a mortgage without large down payments.

Benefits of MI

  • It helps you buy a home sooner. On average it could take 20 years for a household earning the national median income of $61,372 to save 20%, plus closing costs, for a $262,250 home, the median sales price for a single-family home. MI helps borrowers qualify with as little as 3% down.
  • It is temporary, leading to lower monthly payments down the road. MI can be cancelled once 20% equity is established, either through payments or home price appreciation. Borrowers typically can cancel MI within the first five to seven years. This is not the case for the vast majority of mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. FHA mortgage insurance premiums stay on the loan for the life of the loan.
  • It provides several flexible payment options. Your lender can offer several MI product options for MI payment; the most common is paid monthly along with your mortgage until the MI cancels.

MI is a stable, cost-effective way to obtain a low down payment mortgage, and offers distinct benefits to borrowers. It’s been a cornerstone of the U.S. housing market since 1957, providing more than 30 million families with the opportunity to own homes despite financial barriers. If you are considering purchasing a home, it is important to understand your options, including your low down payment options. To learn more, visit LowDownPaymentFacts.org.

Article: Data confirms buyers don’t need to wait decades to save up to buy a home

By Brad Shuster

June is National Homeownership Month, and this year we celebrate amidst a national conversation about how best to reform the U.S. housing finance system to sustain and grow homeownership in a safe and affordable way. This should excite all Americans who are currently seeking to become homeowners and all those who will in the future, because maintaining access to low down payment mortgages continues to be critically important for millions of Americans to realize the dream of homeownership.

Last year alone, more than one million Americans purchased or refinanced a home using mortgages with private mortgage insurance (MI). They were able to overcome the widely held misconception that buyers need a 20 percent down payment, an amount that would take the average American family more than 20 years to save. Of the more than one million families that used private MI in 2018, nearly 60 percent were first-time homeowners who on average saved only 5 percent of the home purchase price as a down payment. Private MI allowed these borrowers to access the conventional mortgage market with sustainable, affordable mortgage options. In Washington, policymakers are currently exploring ways to help even more households realize homeownership the same way.

A new report showcases how private MI helps hard-working, home-ready families who access the conventional mortgage market, even when they don’t have a large down payment. The report highlights that in 2018, more than 40 percent of buyers with private MI had annual incomes below $75,000, and that there were significant wait times for prospective homebuyers attempting to save for a full 20 percent down payment. The report also underscores the significant mortgage credit risk protection that private MI provides to American taxpayers and the federal government.

The report, released by the U.S. Mortgage Insurers (USMI), finds it could take on average 20 years for a family earning the national median income of $61,372 to save 20 percent (plus closing costs) for a $262,250 single-family home, the national median sales price. However, this drops to seven years if the borrower uses a low down payment mortgage with five percent down. This represents a 65 percent decrease in wait time at the national level, and USMI found the same percentage decrease at the state level.

Unfortunately, today millions of Americans nationwide believe homeownership is out of reach. While there are many reasons for prospective homeowners to perceive homeownership as unachievable, including student debt or low wage growth, the most pervasive misconception is that they need to have a 20 percent down payment, according to the National Association of REALTORS. That is simply untrue. There are a variety of mortgage options available that can help prospective borrowers buy homes with as little as 3 percent down – such as conventional loans with private MI and government-backed loans like those insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Each option offers something different and has advantages and disadvantages, but as the new USMI report shows, private MI provides a safe and affordable way to buy a home for millions of families.

It is important for policymakers to understand the long, time-tested role MI has played as they seek to create a more robust housing finance system. Private MI serves as protection against mortgage credit risk if a borrower defaults on their mortgage. This means that every dollar a mortgage insurer covers when a borrower defaults is a dollar that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”) and American taxpayers do not have to pay. In fact, since the 2008 financial crisis the MI industry has paid over $50 billion in claims – losses the government and taxpayers did not have to bear.

As the conversation continues over how to best increase American homeownership – a cornerstone of the U.S. economy – and protect taxpayers and the federal government along the way, this report provides valuable facts for the policymakers and regulators engaged in these discussions. The private MI industry’s long history of success in helping Americans qualify for low down payment mortgages highlights its critical role in the housing finance system, and we stand ready to do more to create a stronger and more sustainable housing market.

This column was published in The Hill on June 13, 2019.

Op-Ed: Private insurance plays a critical part in home mortgage ecosystem





By Lindsey Johnson


Housing finance reform remains a priority in Washington. Earlier this month, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) released a proposal to reform the government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Like many other proposals, including House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) HOME Forward draft legislation, Chairman Crapo’s proposal recognizes the important role that private capital — and specifically private mortgage insurance — serves to facilitate homeownership for low down-payment borrowers and protect taxpayers from mortgage credit risk.

The nominee for director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mark Calabria, recently appeared before the Senate Banking Committee as part of his confirmation process. He’s an individual who appreciates the benefits that private mortgage insurance extends beyond protecting the government and taxpayers.

Private mortgage insurance remains the longest serving, time-tested way to help low down-payment borrowers qualify for home financing in the conventional market.

Our nation’s mortgage finance system is one that must balance access to credit for consumers while also shielding taxpayers. Fortunately, private mortgage insurance is uniquely and permanently dedicated to serving both objectives through all economic cycles. As such, it should remain a critical piece of any future, reformed system.

Access to affordable, low down-payment mortgages is understandably top-of-mind for many policymakers. While there is an important role for government and taxpayer-backed programs to play in the broader system, any comprehensive reform should first encourage the greater use of private capital that ensures access to affordable low down-payment mortgages in the conventional market.

Fortunately, there is generally bipartisan agreement around this principle. Facilitating this kind of mortgage lending is precisely the purpose of private mortgage insurance, which has helped more than 30 million families secure home loans over the last six decades — many of whom were first-time or middle-income homebuyers.

Last year, more than 1 million homeowners qualified to purchase or refinance their home thanks to private mortgage insurance. Of these homeowners, nearly 60 percent were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

Congressional leaders and the Trump administration must reform the housing finance system into one that works for all Americans by protecting taxpayers while also ensuring access to affordable mortgage financing.

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies projected that the U.S. would add 13.6 million households between 2015 and 2025, which means affordable low down-payment options must be part of the equation.

Mortgage insurance companies support the government-sponsored enterprises and mortgage lenders in the origination of low- to moderate- income mortgage programs that address affordable housing needs of local communities.

The private mortgage insurance industry stands ready to continue its role as the solution to enable millions of families to achieve homeownership.

A version of this op-ed originally appeared in The Hill on February 17, 2019.

Blog: Mortgage insurance — added cost to homebuying or smart way to get in?

The homebuying process is exciting, but can also seem fraught with added costs, like a home inspection, title insurance and closing costs. And if you can’t afford a full 20 percent down payment on a conventional home loan, then you will most likely pay for private mortgage insurance (MI). Some people consider private MI yet another added cost, but it helps creditworthy middle-income homebuyers qualify for home financing sooner with a low down payment. Is it really an added cost if it saves time and money in the long run?

For most people, low down payment home loan options include conventional loans with private MI and government-backed loans like those offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). While comparable, each of these options has important differences. For example, the minimum down payment for an FHA mortgage is 3.5 percent while it’s only 3 percent on a conventional, privately insured mortgage.

Another key feature of private MI is that it can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. Borrowers who purchase a home with private MI can typically cancel it within 5 to 7 years, resulting in their monthly bill going down. Private MI’s cancelability makes it a more affordable option over FHA-backed mortgages, which typically require mortgage insurance premiums for the entirety of the loan term. Both are offered by most mortgage lenders, so it’s smart to ask a loan officer for both options so you can compare and do the math.

The myth that a homebuyer needs 20 percent down to obtain a mortgage is simply not true. Low down payment mortgages are widely available and used every day across the country. In 2018, the National Association of Realtors found that first-time homebuyers typically put down 7 percent, while repeat buyers put down an average of 16 percent. Many homebuyers choose a lower down payment option to preserve some savings for home improvements or save for other goals. The time it could take to save up a 20 percent down payment is significant. On average, it could take up to 20 years to save a full 20 percent, plus closing costs, for a $257,700 house — the national median sales price. With home prices on the rise, the amount of time it takes to save up could only increase. Private MI can mean the difference between getting into the home of your dreams sooner or waiting for years.

For over 60 years, more than 30 million homeowners of all backgrounds have used private MI to successfully buy their homes. In the past year alone, private MI helped more than one million borrowers nationwide purchase or refinance a mortgage. According to a study by U.S. Mortgage Insurers, 56 percent of purchase borrowers were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

For decades, millions of homeowners and prospective homebuyers have relied on private MI to help them affordably and responsibly purchase their homes — in turn helping them build personal wealth. Today’s historically low mortgage interest rates are a good reason to buy a home now. It is estimated that in 2019, the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will be around 5 percent. Borrowers should take advantage of these historically low mortgage interest rates because experts forecast that primary mortgage rates are on the rise.

Getting a mortgage with private MI and keeping more of your hard-earned money in the bank can be a very smart way to invest in your future. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.orgto learn more.

Blog: Take a Second Look at Your Homebuying Options

Buying a home is an exciting process, but for many people it can also seem out of reach. While many renters would like to buy, there are several factors that may lead potential homebuyers to believe they may not be ready. These include credit score requirements, income and debt levels, and the common myth that a 20 percent down payment is needed. Here is some good news: Qualifying for a mortgage may not be so far out of reach.

While it is true that borrowers with stronger credit profiles—FICO scores of 720 and higher, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, and cash reserves—generally receive better mortgage terms, there are products in the market that can enable access to affordable, prudently underwritten mortgage financing.

Down payment is routinely cited by prospective homebuyers as the largest hurdle to homeownership, but low down payment mortgages are widely available in today’s market. These include conventional loans with private mortgage insurance (MI) and government-backed loans like those insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Many borrowers incorrectly believe that they need a 20 percent down payment to buy a home, but with private MI a borrower can qualify for a conventional home loan with as little as 3percent down. In addition to the competitive pricing of mortgages backed by private MI, private MI can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. This added perk often makes private MI a more affordable option over other home loan programs—such as FHA-backed home loans—which require mortgage insurance premiums for the vast majority of borrowers for the entire term of the mortgage, which is often 15 or 30 years.

For more than 60 years, more than 30 million homeowners have used private MI to successfully buy homes and build the long-term wealth associated with home equity. In 2017 alone, private MI helped more than one million borrowers nationwide purchase or refinance a mortgage. According to a study by U.S. Mortgage Insurers, 56 percent of those borrowers who received purchase loans were first-time homebuyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

For decades, millions of homeowners and prospective homebuyers have relied on private MI to help them affordably and responsibly buy a home. Based on median home prices, it can take an average of 20 years to save for a 20 percent down payment. And with home prices dramatically on the rise, this wait time will only increase. Luckily, private MI can help you get into the home of your dreams sooner.

When making homebuying decisions, it is important to take a second look to make sure you are aware of all your options. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

Blog: A smarter way to buy a home

Are you considering buying a home? With mortgage rates on the slow and steady incline, there may be no better time for a home purchase than now. Mortgage interest rates will likely continue to go up for the foreseeable future, according to recent data from the housing finance company Freddie Mac. Many housing experts and industry observers agree.

What does this mean?

If you are thinking about buying a home, it means don’t wait any longer. The overall cost of buying a home in the future will only increase compared to buying a home of the same value today. Furthermore, rising interest rates impact housing inventory, as sellers might not be as interested in moving if it means paying a higher rate on a new mortgage. As a result, the dream home you see today might not be available next year.

The 20 percent down myth

If you’ve put off buying your next home to save for the full 20 percent there is good news: you don’t need it. If you were unaware of this, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that among first-time homebuyers who obtained a mortgage, 80 percent made a down payment of less than 20 percent. While there are several low down payment mortgage options available, only one has a 60-year history of being a steadfast, smart way to get into a home: a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance (MI).

What is a conventional loan with MI?

A conventional loan is a mortgage from a lender that is not completely backed by the federal government. For qualified borrowers with a low down payment, private MI is required and typically paid monthly along with the mortgage payment. You can obtain this type of loan with as little as 3 percent down, though buying with a 5 percent down payment will result in a lower monthly payment.

There are other types of low down payment options that also include MI, such as the government-insured loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Unlike the premiums charged by FHA loans, private MI premiums can be cancelled once 20 percent equity in home value is reached, and with private MI there are no upfront costs added onto a borrower’s initial down payment like there are with an FHA loan. This means your monthly bill decreases and you have extra money to spend on your family, vacations, retirement and any other needs.

Don’t sit on the sidelines and miss out on your dream home. To learn more about mortgage insurance compared to other low down payment options, visit LowDownPaymentFacts.org.